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P&S Journal

P&S Journal: Spring 1994, Vol.14, No.2
Professorship Will Honor Renowned Scientist, beloved Teacher

By Peter wortsman
One of the world's foremost experts in infectious diseases and antimicrobial agents, Dr. Harold C. Neu is also one of the most revered teachers and popular people at P&S. When word went out of plans to create the Harold C. Neu Professorship in Infectious Diseases, the alumni response was immediate and strong, even though Dr. Neu, who has been at P&S for 33 years, is not a P&S graduate.
As a faculty member, Dr. Neu is an associate alumnus of P&S. His alumni affiliation is further strengthened through his wife, Carmen Ortiz-Neu'63, and his daughter, Natalie Neu'91.
Dr. Neu, a recipient of the prestigious Hoechst-Roussell Award, among many other honors, is that rare instance of a renowned
medical scientist committed not only to the pursuit of knowledge, but also to its dissemination. Twice named teacher of the year (Class of 1991 and Class of 1993), he also received the Dean's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1993.
"What makes Harold Neu so unusual as a teacher," says Glenda Garvey'69 (herself a two-time recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award), "is his personal generosity of spirit." Dr. Garvey, professor of clinical medicine and course director in the Department of Medicine, was Dr. Neu's third fellow in infectious diseases at P&S. "By the time you've finished an hour with him, whether it's a formal lecture or an informal consultation," she points out, "you really feel as if you've been in the company of crowds of experts each specializing in different aspects of the subject. The enthusiasm, the erudition, the all-encompassing example of his own personal commitment make the experience very intense and memorable."
It is no coincidence that Dr. Neu was the first faculty member editors of the new student medical journal, P&S Medical Review, approached for a special lead article to set the tone of the journal. The author of 344 original articles, 14 case reports, 455 reviews, chapters, and editorials, and editor of 21 books and monographs,
Dr. Neu's prolific record of publication is matched only by his accessibility.
To such colleagues as Dr. Robert C. Moellering Jr. of the Deaconess Hospital in Boston, Dr. Neu's word is "the gold standard for in vitro and pharmacologic evaluation of new antimicrobial agents." Colleagues in the pharmaceutical industry, such as Edward Fritzky, president of Lederle Laboratories, a division of American Cyanamid, concur: "We regard Dr. Neu not only as a brilliant scientist and compassionate physician, but a man of great warmth, wit, vitality, and enthusiasm. Few in his field have made such a tremendous and lasting contribution..." American Cyanamid was among many companies worldwide that have contributed generously to the endowment.
"It's a heartfelt tribute," says Dr. Paul Ellner, professor emeritus of microbiology and former director of the clinical microbiology service, who spearheads efforts to create the endowed chair. For some 26 years, until Dr. Ellner's retirement in 1989, the two men collaborated closely on the laboratory and clinical analysis of antimicrobial agents. In 1981, they received international attention for their joint work in developing the concept of "inhibitory quotient," a method to correlate laboratory microbiology data and pharmacokinetic data of antimicrobial agents.
At an infectious disease division meeting, shortly after being diagnosed with a life-threatening glioblastoma, Dr. Neu reflected on the well-intended advice he had received to stop working and travel around the world or retire to a beach in Hawaii. His response was vintage Neu: "I've been around the world 12 times, I've visited my sister in Hawaii...What I want to do is teach. It's what makes me happy. I think I'm good at it and I hope to go on teaching right here at P&S until I can't do it anymore."
The endowment of the Harold C. Neu Professorship will be a legacy that honors that commitment.

copyright ©, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center

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